London School of Economics

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London School of Economics and Political Science
London School of Economics logo
Motto Rerum cognoscere causas<br\>"To understand the causes of things"
Established 1895
Director Howard Davies
Location London, United Kingdom
Students 7,510 total (3,489 postgraduate)
Faculty 644
Member of University of London, Russell Group, 1994 Group, APSIA

The London School of Economics and Political Science, often referred to as the London School of Economics or simply the LSE, is a specialist college within the University of London.

General Information

The School is a major centre of political debate. LSE alumni and former staff include thirteen Nobel Prize winners in Economics, Peace and Literature, around thirty-three heads of state or heads of government, including eight current heads of state or government, thirty current British Members of Parliament, and twenty-nine current peers of the House of Lords.

The School is regarded as a pacemaker in the study of economics, political science, law, international relations, accounting and finance, philosophy of science, anthropology, sociology, and social policy. The main library of the LSE is the British Library of Political and Economic Science (BLPES)[1], and is the world's largest library dedicated to the social sciences. According to the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council: "The Library is considered to be the most significant centre for social scientists in the UK due to its vast collection of both primary archive resources and secondary resources including research monographs and serial titles. Its historical collection of pamphlets in all European languages is unrivalled; many items are rare and not duplicated in any other library."

The LSE, Old Building

The LSE is located on Houghton Street in Central London, off the Aldwych and next to the Royal Courts of Justice. The LSE is a constituent college of the federal University of London.

There are nearly 7,000 full-time students and around 750 part-time students at the university. Of these, 38% come from the United Kingdom, 18% from other European Union countries, and 44% from more than 130 other countries. Around 48% are women and 52% are postgraduates. Courses are taught in over thirty research departments and twenty-one departments, including Accounting and Finance, Management, Anthropology, Economic History, Economics, The Development Studies Institute, the European Institute, Geography and Environment, Government, Industrial Relations, Information Systems, International History, International Relations, Law, Mathematics, Media and Communications, Operational Research, Philosophy Logic and Scientific Method, Social Policy, Social Psychology, Sociology, and Statistics.

The School also has a very active student newspaper, The Beaver, which recently celebrated its 50th anniversary, as well as other media outlets such as PuLSE Radio, The Script, and LooSE, a student-operated TV station. The LSE Students' Union is one of the most active in Europe, and earned a global reputation for liberal activism in the 1950s and 1960s.

The LSE regularly attracts speakers of international distinction. For example, in May 2005 José Manuel Barroso (President of the European Commission) and John Edwards were amongst those who gave lectures. Past speakers have included Bill Clinton, Vicente Fox, Kofi Annan, and Nelson Mandela. Hardly a week goes by without a head of government or senior minister visiting LSE to give a lecture. For example, during one week in October 2005 alone, the Crown Prince of Norway and his Foreign minister (Wednesday 26th October), the Prime Minister of Turkey (Thursday 27th October), and the Prime Minister of Poland (Friday 28th October) visited the LSE.

History of the School

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Old Building Entrance

The London School of Economics and Political Science was founded in 1895 after a bequest to the Fabian Society of some £20,000 by Henry Hunt Hutchinson in 1894. The decision to found the School was made at a breakfast party between four Fabians: Beatrice and Sidney Webb, George Wallas, and George Bernard Shaw on 4 August 1894.

The real driving force for the School was the Webbs, and in particular Sidney, for whom such a School had been an idea of long standing. The Hutchinson bequest coincided not just with the Webbs' ideas, but also with a wider movement in society. Politically and economically, people feared that Britain's international position in business and industry was at risk because of inadequate teaching and research. In August 1894, the British Association for the Advancement of Science spoke out for the need to advance the systematic study of economics. The timing was favourable, the idea found support, and the London School of Economics and Political Science held its first classes in October 1895 at rooms at No 9 John Street, Adelphi.

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The LSE, Student Services Centre

The School's academic purpose was clear: original lectures, the scientific and objective discovery of facts, research and the training of researchers. In 1905/6, there were 181 postgraduates in the whole of England and Wales: 27 at Oxford, 36 at Cambridge, 49 at other universities - and 69 at LSE. Within its first decade, the School had become established as a world-class centre of research.

LSE's expansion was rapid. The British Library of Political and Economic Science was created alongside the School, and in 1896 the institution moved from 9 John Street, Adelphi to 10 Adelphi Terrace. In 1900, LSE was recognised as a Faculty of Economics in the newly constituted University of London, and in 1901 the Faculty degrees were announced as the Bachelor of Science (Econ.) and Doctor of Science (Econ.). These were the first university degrees principally dedicated to the social sciences, and LSE became the institution where the social sciences were established in Britain. The LSE also formed the second oldest faculty Chair in International Relations in the world around this time in addition to faculty chairs in history, philosophy, sociology, and various other fields of the social sciences.

In 1902, the School moved to its first purpose-built site at Passmore Edwards Hall in Clare Market, near Aldwych and the Strand. The School has since continued to grow there, beginning in 1922 with the construction of Old Building in the adjacent Houghton Street.

From the outset, the LSE was proud of its unique perspective, and pragmatic in its outlook on life and in its reactions to historical circumstances. It was the first such institution in England, and--as the Webbs hoped--it attracted gifted students and academics from both the United Kingdom and other countries worldwide. The LSE was never intended to be purely academic but to use the higher study of economics and political science to educate and train people for careers in administration and business.

The LSE is located close to the BBC on the Aldwych, giving journalists easy access to LSE academics. Under the previous Directorship of Anthony Giddens, the LSE was heavily involved in public debate over Labour Party policy in Britain.

LSE & World Rankings

League tables published by British newspapers consistently rank the LSE inside the top four academic institutions in the country. In recent years, the LSE has become the second largest overall research university in the United Kingdom, second only to Cambridge, and the largest in the social sciences.

The 2005 Times Higher Education Supplement World University Rankings ranked the LSE as follows:

  • 2nd in the world for the social sciences
  • 4th in the world according to recruiters' eyes
  • 9th in the world for arts and humanities
  • 11th in the world overall

The 2004 Times Higher Education Supplement World University Rankings also ranked LSE 2nd in the world for the social sciences and 11th in the world overall, as well as 10th in the world for arts and humanities (the employers' rankings of world universities did not feature in the 2004 rankings).

The 2005 Sunday Times University Guide wrote, 'Nobody (in the UK) can match the LSE for social sciences. It is a cut above every other institution in the country in its specialist area and can compete with any in the wider world, from which it recruits many of its students' (p. 37).

File:London School of Economics Coat of Arms.png
London School of Economics coat of arms

According to the 2005 Times Higher Education Supplement, the LSE has the highest proportion of international students in the world, and the second highest proportion of international staff in the world. Over 70% of its student body coming from outside the United Kingdom, and well over 130 countries represented on campus in any given year. During the 1950s and 60s, the School had more countries represented on campus than the United Nations. In a 2003 profile of the School, The Guardian newspaper depicted the LSE as having had "more influence on the contemporary political world than any other university in the world."

LSE & Columbia Alliance

The LSE recently formalised a major institutional alliance with Columbia University, which has been burgeoning for years. The alliance developed as a result of the good working relationship between the two institutions built up through their partnership in establishing Fathom, a centre for online knowledge and learning from the world's leading universities, libraries, museums and research institutes. LSE and Columbia Business School are also collaborators in, a privately held company dedicated to the development and delivery of business education and training via the Internet.

So far, the alliance has achieved three joint Masters degree programs in public policy and environmental studies, including a Master of Public Administration, a Master of Public Policy, and Master of Science, two joint law degree programs, a joint Master of Laws (LLM) and Bachelor of Laws (LLB), at least five joint research projects, one joint research centre, and an endowment through joint fundraising to provide scholarships for students to enroll or participate in the research performed by the LSE and Columbia affiliation.

Noted Alumni or Faculty

See also List of London School of Economics people

Heads of State or Heads of Government

Other Prominent Alumni or Faculty


Politics & Government

Media, Authors & Journalists



List of the School's Directors

LSE in Political Drama

Certain fictional characters in popular political dramas and comedies have been depicted as LSE graduates. These include President Josiah Bartlet of The West Wing TV series, and Prime Minister Jim Hacker of the Yes, Minister and Yes, Prime Minister BBC TV series.


Monica Lewinsky will take a MSc in Social Psychology at LSE beginning in the Michaelmas term (autumn) of 2005.

External links

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de:London School of Economics and Political Science el:London School of Economics es:Escuela de Ciencias Económicas y Políticas de Londres fi:London School of Economics fr:London School of Economics ja:ロンドン・スクール・オブ・エコノミクス pl:London School of Economics pt:London School of Economics sv:London School of Economics zh:倫敦政治經濟學院